EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel chief Rich Ross told the crowd at TCA last month that a big part of his new regime was to dump all the pseudo stuff and instead have programming that would “impact people to do something.” Looks like that mantra drove the cable and satellite channel during its visit to Park City this year: Discovery has picked up domestic and international rights to Racing Extinction, the latest documentary from Louie Psihoyos, the Oscar-winning director of The Cove and the Fisher Stevens co-founded Insurgent Media, I’ve learned. The film had its world premiere January 24 at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition category.

The just-completed agreement was negotiated by Cinetic Media’s John Sloss for the filmmakers with EVP Documentaries and Specials John Hoffman handling things for Discovery. The veteran HBO exec was bought on board by Ross in early January as a “message” of the direction he wanted Discovery to go.

discovery channel logoDiscovery is going big with the highly stylized film about how close Earth is to a massive loss of thousands of species. The network plans to premiere Racing Extinction nearly simultaneously on the same day later this year in all of its 220 markets. Perhaps with Oscar consideration in mind, the pic also will get a 10-market stateside theatrical run before it’s shown on TV. Racing Extinction will go to other platforms, including VOD, after its broadcast premiere.

Racing Extinction is a gripping, important film by some of our best storytellers,” Ross said today. “We hope that by harnessing the power of Discovery with its worldwide television premiere we can ignite global awareness and provoke a movement to save so many endangered species from extinction.” Stevens added, “This is a historic deal that will bring Racing Extinction to over 220 countries and territories across the world and not only entertain the hell out of audiences but move the needle in keeping the planet environmentally stable for all.”

Paul and Jody Allen’s Vulcan Productions, Oceanic Preservation Society Film and Insurgent were behind Racing Extinction with Cove alum Stevens and Olivia Ahnemann producing. Dieter Paulmann served as executive producer on the film.